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Volume 22 No. 35
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Tony's Take

Tony Ponturo is executive vice president of strategy for Turnkey Intelligence. Previously, he spent 26 years at Anheuser-Busch, overseeing the company’s marketing, media and sponsorship from 1991 to 2008.

The NBA is the professional sports league with all of its engines firing in a positive way.

The NBA has currently found its own marketing brand positioning as young, relevant, socially responsible, sensitive and appealing to a diverse population, and it has players who are part of pop culture. The league has built a brand that clearly has an allure to sponsors looking to benefit from the NBA’s positive image. The league has worked hard to build this image, through constant communication with its current fans and an eye toward what its future fan looks like.

In the research we conducted, Turnkey Intel saw that almost all official NBA league sponsors enjoyed growth in brand awareness year-over-year. American Express, Budweiser and Bud Light saw positive results with the consumer and their association as a sponsor of the NBA.

When we look at sponsor awareness, we need to appreciate and give credit to all the smart marketing programs that these brands put behind their sponsorship, not only at the league level but with broadcast support and individual team deals.

American Express created a holistic campaign, leveraging its “Don’t NBA Without It” commercials along with a strong title sponsorship around the All-Star Game on TNT.

Budweiser and Bud Light enhanced their voice and reach with double-digit team sponsorship deals in addition to their league deal, amplifying their social share of voice on a national level. Their Mother’s Day NBA tribute commercial garnered a great deal of attention for the brands and resonated well with the consumer.

As marketers, we don’t always know when, where and how the consumer interacts with our sponsorships, but what we do know is if we fully integrate our association and use fun and relevant communication, our message does penetrate through the noise and moves the needle.